Washington: China has raised the alarm in the South and the East China Sea with forceful attempts to take control of the regions for the past few months. The US has also taken aggressive action to curb the Chinese activities, which includes the policy of increasing the defence preparedness of the leading nations of the region. As part of the strategy, the US has approved the sale of 105 F-35 stealth fighters to Japan and recertification of Patriot air defence missiles to Taiwan. A severe reaction has emerged from China over the US-Japan deal while the Chinese media have accused the US and Taiwan of provoking war.
The US has accused China of being responsible for the Coronavirus pandemic and warned it of severe consequences. However, China has significantly stepped up its activities in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific for the past few months to show it would not heed to the US warnings. The actions are driven by China’s ambition to dominate the entire South and the East China Sea. The country is consistently making a show of its naval strength in the Indo-Pacific region. The Chinese navy (PLAN), which has taken an aggressive stance against Vietnam and Taiwan, even sunk the Vietnamese ship.
Chinese fighter jets are also attempting to intrude into Taiwan’s airspace. Simultaneously, China’s destroyers, submarines and patrol vessels are trying to challenge Japan’s sovereignty. Considering the recent developments, the US has stepped forth to limit the Chinese ambition and is seeking help from Japan, India, Australia, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian nations. The US, stepping up the deployment of its forces in the Indo-Pacific and the substantial supply of defence equipment to the countries of the region, is part of its comprehensive policy.
On Thursday, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency approved the proposed sale of 105 F-35 fighter jets to Japan. The US Congress was notified of the decision, and the deal is worth $23 billion. Accordingly, Japan will be supplied with 63 F-35A and 42 F-35B aircraft. When the transaction is complete, Japan will have 147 F-35 steal fighters in its air force, sources said. Japan is only the second-largest operator of the F-35s apart from the US, which develops the stealth fighters.
F-35 is referred to as the most modern and advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Along with the purchase of the advanced fighters, Japan has even decided to independently develop the F-X sixth-generation stealth fighter jet to counter the Chinese threat. The country has reserved a fund of $260 million for the fighter, and Japanese sources believe the aircraft will be inducted into the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) by 2031.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration, which has focussed on enhancing cooperation with Taiwan in the past few years, has okayed the upgrade package for Patriot surface-to-air missiles to the country. As per the deal, the range and life of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 or PAC-3 will be extended. Furthermore, the US and Taiwanese sources have informed that the missile repair and recertification package is worth $620 million and the upgraded missiles will remain operational in the Taiwanese defence forces for the next three decades.
At the start of June, Taiwan was said to have been planning to buy Harpoon missiles from the US. Before that, there were reports of the US approving the sale of torpedoes to Taiwan as well. The ruling Chinese Communist regime has become extremely nervous due to the growing US activities for Taiwan’s security, and the state-run media has begun resorting to threats. The Global Times, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, has criticised the US-Taiwan agreement saying the new deal was an incitement for war. At the same time, if a war were to spark off, the Chinese Army would take control of Taiwan withing a matter of hours, the Global Times warned.